11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.
See You in the Cosmos is told as if it’s the transcripts of Alex’s iPod recordings. I loved the unique format and the rambling voice Alex had, but it also meant for lots of long paragraphs which made the pages a little harder for me to read. Struggling readers might have trouble with this, too.
At the beginning of the story, 11-year-old Alex takes a train by himself to a convention where he hopes to launch his rocket. I loved his bravery and how innocent he was in taking off on this journey like it was nothing (his maturity and independence definitely reminded me of Willow from Counting by 7s.) But as I read the story, I was so nervous about his trip. I have an 11-year-old, and kept thinking about how terrified I’d be for her to be riding trains across the country and traveling with strangers. Obviously Alex finds great friends along his journey, and his trust in the world pays off in that way. I struggled—he did not.
I thought the reveal of the family situation (don’t want to give it away) pulled a lot of things together. Just as I started thinking, wait, this isn’t right, the pieces fell into place and Alex learned what was really going on. The one character I really didn’t connect with was his brother. I thought he did some odd things that really didn’t add up.
I loved the fact that Alex was so interested in rockets, but I wished there was more about those mechanics and his plans in the story. Most of the focus ends up being about his hopes in extraterrestrial life and his relationships with his family and community, which were also enjoyable themes. If you liked Counting by 7s, add See You in the Cosmos to your list.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
“Bleep” appears instead of any profanity.
Alex meets a new friend who is Buddhist and has taken a vow of silence. He communicates through writing on a small chalk board.
One young man punches another in a fight over a girl. Alex is injured in an accident and hospitalized.
Alex’s friends (who are much older) drink alcohol. Later, one of them listens to the recording Alex made while they were drinking. She hears herself in the background talking and feels embarrassed about her behavior. She expresses regret for drinking in front of Alex.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.